Picking up from where we left off yesterday, and going to the New Testament, we can see the principle of letting go of false hopes expanded. First of all, Jesus’ teachings about this.
Christ instructed people not to trust (/hope) in…
among other things.
He told his disciples that to follow him they would need to be ready, like the rich young ruler, to forsake all those things and even more to do it.
Even houses and land.
Even father, mother, spouse or children.
He let them know happily-ever-after marriages or families, or relations with people not genuinely “on board” with God were not the wise focus in which to invest their lives. But he offered huge, boundless, eternal hope instead (Luke 18:23-30; 12:51-53; 12:32).
The Epistles of the Apostles pick up on this theme of false and true hope and carry it futher, telling us to turn from self-confidence (hope in one’s own abilities) to hope in God’s strength, ability, and willingness to enable us to discern what to do and the power to do it—and do it in joy, and peace, and hope!
Paul testified about this true hope thus:
“…we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now [this] hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom 5:3-5 NKJV).
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected [it] in hope” (Rom 8:18-20);
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13).
Here is an appropriate place to re-emphasize that what all these passages are talking about is not specific hope for particular earthly here-and-now outcomes—like for someone to get a particular job or new house or be healed from a particular disease, or for someone nasty to start genuinely loving us and treating us wonderfully, or for us to be able to achieve some self-set goal (which may not be God’s goal for us). Yes, God does answer prayers about earthly things amazingly, but He implores us to aim our desires toward higher hopes.
The next verse I found underlines this fact:
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1Co 15:19).
Instead, the eternal hope we have in Him is “an anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Heb 6:19)
Peter’s first epistle chimes in, saying, “…God… according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, … Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest [your] hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; … through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God”(1Pe 1:3, 13, 21).
So, there’s Despair that sees only complete hopelessness, and there’s (specific and necessary) despair in things we shouldn’t trust in. And there’s (earthly) hope (that’s shaky, nebulous, and often false), and there’s Hope that’s sure, boundless, and eternal.
When we choose total Despair or false hope, we are “most pitiful.” But when we choose specific “despair” about any particular earthly futility, and boundless, eternal Hope in God, “we are more than…” victims, “we are more than” survivors, “we are [even] more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom 8:37). Then (after perhaps a needful time of mourning—like the rich young ruler’s) we are ready to move on… to greater and higher aims, learnings, achievements, and experiences.
Q 4 U: What false or foolish hope might you be clinging to that’s getting in the way of higher Hope?